Whale Song and how far it carries Print E-mail

Most marine mammal scientists believe that sound plays a particularly vital role in the development and well-being of cetaceans. Researchers use hydrophones to ascertain the exact location of the origin of whale noises. Their methods allow them also to detect how far through an ocean a sound travels. Research by Dr Christopher Clark of Cornell University conducted using thirty years worth of military data showed that whale noises travel up to 3,000 km. As well as providing information about song production, the data allows researchers to follow the migratory path of whales throughout the "singing" (mating) season.

Prior to the introduction of human noise production, Clark says the noises may have travelled right from one side of an ocean to the other. His research indicates that ambient noise from boats is doubling each decade. This has the effect of halving the range of whale noises. Those who believe that whale songs are significant to the continued well-being of whale populations are particularly concerned by this increase in ambient noise. Other research has shown that increased boat traffic in, for example, the waters off Vancouver, has caused some Orca to change the frequency and increase the amplitude of their sounds, in an apparent attempt to make themselves heard. Environmentalists fear that such boat activity is putting undue stress on the animals as well as making it difficult to find a mate.

 
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